TACTICAL HAPTICS WINS NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION GRANT AND RAISES SEED ROUND TO BRING IMMERSIVE TOUCH FEEDBACK TO VR

 

Palo Alto, California – November 17, 2016 – Tactical Haptics, whose innovative touch feedback brings a realistic sense of touch to virtual reality (VR), announced today that it has won a US National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant in the amount of $749,000 and closed a $1.47M seed round for a combined total of $2.2M in funding.  The company’s seed round was led by SV Tech Ventures and the Youku Global Media Fund (a joint venture between CRCM VC and Youku Tudou, Inc.), with participation from the SIG Asia Investment Fund, Sand Hill Angels, and the Stanford-StartX Fund. The combined funds will allow the company to accelerate development and build out its team.

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Current haptic interfaces are either too expensive, have limited range of motion (force feedback devices), or are too crude (rumble) to portray a broad range of realistic haptic interactions in VR. Tactical Haptics has created an ungrounded haptic motion controller that utilizes a new form of touch feedback that applies in-hand shear forces to create compelling physical feedback at a price that is viable for consumer markets. With this motion controller in hand, users get a realistic experience of the stretch of a bow and arrow, the inertia of a ball swinging on a chain  the impact of a ball on their virtual tennis racket, the tug of a fish in a fishing game, or the kick of a gun in their favorite shooter game.

 

The NSF SBIR grant, titled “Intuitive Touch Feedback via Ungrounded Tactile Shear Feedback for Virtual Reality and Human-Machine Interfaces” is a 2-year research and development grant focused on creating the minimum viable product (MVP) of the company’s haptic motion controller, which is targeted at gaming-oriented virtual reality. The proposed research will improve user experience with these haptic controllers by reducing device size and mass and improving device ergonomics, while reducing cost. As a grant recipient, the company’s touch feedback controller was also featured in NBC Learn’s Science of Innovation series http://www.nbclearn.com/science-of-innovation/ (see story “Science of Innovation: Motion Controller for Virtual Reality”).

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Tactical Haptics’s initial focus will be on creating a developer kit, including mini-games, for VR game developers so they can integrate the company’s advanced haptic controller with their VR game content. The developer kit will support multiple VR platforms allowing developers to use the dev kit as a replacement for the HTC Vive or Oculus Touch controllers. The haptic dev kit could also support mobile VR interaction.

About the company’s touch feedback:
The company’s advanced touch feedback works by mimicking the friction and shear forces that we feel in the real world when holding an object or touching a surface. This is accomplished by tracking the movements of the player’s hand (e.g., using Valve’s SteamVR or Oculus VR’s Constellation Tracking) and actuating small sliding plates on the surface of the grip-region of the controller to recreate the friction and shear forces you’d experience when holding an actual object such as a baseball bat, slingshot, or fishing rod.  In addition to gaming, this feedback could also be used in augmented reality, telerobotic interfaces for manufacturing and maintenance, industrial and construction operator interfaces, pilot training interfaces, automotive navigation and safety systems, computer-aided design (CAD), education, laparoscopic or telerobotic surgery, rehabilitation, swing training, or to guide the blind.

For more information on the company’s touch feedback, please visit:  http://tacticalhaptics.com/media
For additional assets please visit:  http://tacticalhaptics.com/pressImages/NSF-Seed/

Related Links:
Official Website: http://tacticalhaptics.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tacticalhaptics
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tacticalhaptics
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TacticalHaptics/videos
Company’s NSF SBIR Phase II Award:  https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1632341

About Tactical Haptics
Founded in 2013, Tactical Haptics is revolutionizing gaming in virtual reality (VR) with haptic game controllers that provide natural and intuitive touch feedback that creates great VR experiences.  Realistic touch feedback is a critical element for creating immersive experiences and is currently missing from virtual reality (VR) and video games. Tactical Haptics has developed innovative touch feedback that can be built into a game controller. The company’s unique touch feedback greatly augments the gaming experience and is significantly more realistic than industry-standard Rumble (vibration) feedback. The company is currently working to make a developer kit available for VR. Tactical Haptics is currently based in Palo Alto, California, USA.

Media Contact:
William Provancher

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